The Weight of the World (Buffy, Season 5, Episode 21)

Glory, experiencing a moment of mercy as she awaits her rebirth into the hell she came from, is restless.  She feels ‘tight in her skin’.  It should come as no surprise that such a feeling would be associated with the luo of the Conception Vessel. The Conception Vessel (or Ren Mai) is usually associated with bonding and pacing the assimilation of the world around oneself.  Here, we see Glory and Ben are both emotionally assimilating to one another’s worlds, and the pace of switching from one to the other is speeding up out of control.

In repletion, the CV luo is characterised by pain in the skin of the abdomen.  In depletion, the symptom is an itchy abdomen, a sort of restless core rather different from the ‘hot hands’ of the Lung luo.  From the luo point of CV-15, it disperses over the abdomen, and it manifests as spider veins lining the costal margin.  E Jiao and Gui Ban both go to the Conception Vessel.  Zhi Shi treats tormenting itching.  Any of the three can be added to Si Wu Tang, along with Sang Ye or Jie Geng to float the formula outwards towards the surface of the skin.

Glory raises some interesting points about feelings, which I’d like to relate to the idea of blood and luo vessels as repositories of human feeling.  Glory describes people as having all sorts of bile running through them.  They have no control.  Humans, she says, are ‘meat-baggy slaves to hormones and pheromones and their feelings… Hate ’em!’  What she does not tie in, however, is that the hormones she posits as a source of feelings are carried by the blood.  Pheromones, emitted by scent and sweat glands, elicit hormonal responses, again through the medium of blood. It does not seem surprising that blood was chosen as the site of ‘internal’ and ’emotional’ physiology.

Glory goes on to talk about how ‘Human emotions are useless… people getting jerked around by their emotions’.  That thought also is not foreign to many meditative traditions; hence the practice of what in Christianity was termed ‘recollection’ and today in Buddhism is called ‘mindfulness’, the cultivation of a pause to feel the body and the body and not as a feeling warranting an unthought meaning before acting.  It is a simple practice of attentiveness to the world as it is, as you experience it, before you associate the experiences with any verbal interpretations.

Another aspect of human life the episode raised is guilt, and the weight of the world as the burden of potential.  In Chinese Medicine, as I’ve described before, dampness is something good which because it has become too much and cannot be used, becomes burdensome and pathological.  Therefore, for Buffy, herbs which transform dampness or bolster the Spleen (and its ability to mull and meditate) would be called for.   I wonder if this aspect of dampness and the pain of potential is one reason why the SP-21 point was chosen over GB-23? (At the very least, it could serve as a mnemonic device.)

In this episode we also learn about the ritual bloodletting that will open the portal to other worlds.  Yes, it is true:  I chose the luo vessels for this season precisely because I knew the ending of the season.  However, I did not know how well the episodes would provide an opportunity to explore nearly all the luo points.  I hope I did well enough that the points and indications are memorable.  Season Six will likely begin with Extraordinary Vessel treatments and then move  on to using the Sinew Vessels.

As always, these posts are for educational and entertainment purposes only.  If you feel restless and have an itchy abdomen, please see a qualified practitioner of Chinese Medicine or mindfulness (which is now a secular art and researched by Mark Williams, a fellow at Linacre College, Oxford).

Happy Slayage!


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